Jan 29, 2022 2:16 AM
bella, caio, and aadhya in the pelagirs
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This isn't New Orleans.

Aadhya is there and it isn't New Jersey. Caio is there and it isn't Brazil.

"Oh fuck, did I -" breathes Bella. She was holding a torus of antimagic, as they went through the hall, with the three of them huddled in the middle. Most mals couldn't cross it at all; some had enough mundane form to manage, or enough momentum to be unable to turn back once they entered, and Aadhya's pike covered in argonet teeth and the poison Caio brewed was meant to turn aside those if they got to the magical donut hole, and Caio was maintaining a shield and he'd run himself ragged transmuting exotics for Aadhya's pike and making potions for them all to take so they'd be able to cast and jog and breathe and see where they were going through the shimmer of the torus at the same time.

Bella was supposed to be keeping an eye on the leading edge of her torus, and reshape it when they got close to the gates. She is probably not strong enough to break the gates but if she did they'd all be dead and a bunch of other people besides, so. And she was pretty sure she had it - she was so sure -

"Fuck, I'm so, I'm so sorry," she says, and she bursts into tears.

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Caio... hugs her.

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"You think you busted the gates?" says Aadhya. "No way - I saw the shimmer reshape, no way -" But she doesn't have another idea.

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"What else would it be," sobs Bella into Caio's shoulder.

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"They have lots of - failsafes, if they could be nibbled away by agglos or by mals that adapted to suck mana out of artifice they'd be long gone. They're probably fine even if they were tripped up for a second. We're in some obscure place, we'll figure out a comm spell between us, we'll get picked up and helicoptered away with bags over our heads so we don't tell anyone where it is."

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Bella sags.

"Hope so," she sighs. "...right. I'll start thinking on the comm spell." They're not commonly picked up in the Scholomance. What are you going to do, comm spell someone who lives down a flights of stairs and believes every interruption to their studies is life-threatening? And Bella's the creative writer.

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The place they're in is very obviously not New Orleans or New Jersey or Brazil! 

 

 

It's a forest. It's very obviously winter; the exposed ground is deeply carpeted in snow, the tree branches - some evergreen, some denuded of all leaves - encrusted in ice or carrying their own muffling snowy blankets.

The forest has an intensely creepy feel. The trees are twisted into vaguely unnatural-seeming shapes and it would be entirely appropriate if a horror movie soundtrack were playing in the background. It isn't, though; it's very, very quiet. The ambiance is somehow one of a moonless night, even though it seems to be earlyish in the morning, judging by the few angled rays of pale sunlight making their way through the trees. 

The forest also looks like it endured a bad storm or something, recently. A number of smaller saplings were knocked over or uprooted; the big tree visible off to one side has several dead branches, half splintered off and dangling. 

That other tree over there definitely has teeth. They're arranged in circular mouth-shapes around the buds that will presumably grow into new leaves come spring. 

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Bella's guess is that this is a weird island in the southern hemisphere that has weird island plants. It'd be a good choice, a lot of mals don't like to cross water and would have a hard time getting into the school through the gate if it connected to such an island.

The kids tromp through the snow looking for a clearing suitable for an igloo or a lean-to. Bella's power sharer doesn't connect to anything, so she, still full from drawing off it, tops off the other two a little. (She didn't have a spare to offer; her allies have been promised interviews but she didn't have a guarantee to offer either.)

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Aadhya finds a good place to plant her pike in the ground so none of them poke themselves on the poisoned teeth, and starts dragging broken branches over to prop up on it and other less broken branches, so they have a reasonably enclosed space to warm up.

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Caio jogs in place. For mana. And warmth.

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And, for a while, ten or fifteen minutes maybe, nothing happens. The forest continues to be uncannily quiet. 

 

 

...and then something in the distance is loudly crashing toward them.

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SHIT. Aadhya wrecks the fort in progress by yanking the pike out of the ground and setting it against the charging whatever it is.

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Bella casts a shield - it's cheaper than the antimagic torus -

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Caio pulls his boomerang; he made it in shop and it was useful enough to pack, but wouldn't have been much good in the graduation hall where there were so many mals. If there's only one thing, though, it'll help. He waits till it comes into view to throw.

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The creature seems to be making rather a lot of crashing sounds, compared to how fast the crashing sounds are actually approaching them. When it comes into view, it's clearer why; the monster, which looks sort of like a bear that was stretched like putty until there was room for an entire additional pair of legs in the middle, is visibly injured, favoring one of its six paws and with the hair half burned off its haunch. Bloody foam drips from its jaw, which is also uncannily elongated and full of disturbingly barbed-looking teeth. 

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Okay so it just came off worse in a fight and - didn't get whoever it was trying to eat, maybe, so it's hungry, but - Caio throws the boomerang.

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Aadhya plants her pike and casts to keep her feet rooted.

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The boomerang knocks the creature sideways a bit, but doesn't kill or incapacitate it; it seems very tough, probably magically so. 

It pauses, though, and turns its head from side to side, blinking and looking very confused. (Its pupils are slitted, like a snake's.) 

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The boomerang comes back even if you're incompetent at throwing! Caio catches it and throws it again.

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